Mauricio Pochettino has called upon the clutch of Tottenham players who wanted to leave over the summer to refocus or prepare to spend time on the sidelines.
Christian Eriksen, Danny Rose, Serge Aurier and Victor Wanyama were determined to force moves away and uncertainty stalked Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen who, like Eriksen, have entered the final year on their contracts.
Yet when the European window closed all of them had stayed, with Pochettino bemoaning the difficulty throughout the summer of concluding outgoing business. The problem is the players are on big wages at a club that have just reached the Champions League final. Where are comparable clubs that want them and are ready to pay them more?
Pochettino predicts fresh speculation will soon engulf his squad as attention turns towards January but, before Saturday’s home game against Crystal Palace, he wants to make a fresh start.
“Always it’s difficult [to sell players] and then I think we are all agreed that Tottenham have more rumours than other clubs,” Pochettino said. “In one month I think the rumours will start again because the situation of the squad is going to help those rumours appear. Now it’s a time to be positive.”
Pochettino, asked about Wanyama and Eriksen, said: “Victor Wanyama is in my plans. Christian is in my plans. Before I understood that they were in a difficult situation and, of course, we tried to help them, to help the club, to do their business. When it’s one player [who wants to leave], then OK. But when it’s a few players, who start to make it difficult to create a good dynamic, a positive dynamic … Now we need to start to win games. Be refocused and who is not refocused is going to be out.”
Eriksen said last week he wished he could have decided his future himself – “like you can do in [the computer game] Football Manager” – which seemed to highlight a desire to be elsewhere. Pochettino, though, does not doubt the midfielder’s commitment.
“When you sign the contract, like Christian who signed for five or six years, you need to be committed from day one to the last day,” Pochettino said. “He isn’t not going to show the commitment because there’s only one year left,” Pochettino said. “The difference is whether he wants to extend the contract or not. Different players have different goals.
“No one is going to say: ‘I want to leave the club’ and, if no one wants you, then you say: ‘No, I love the club.’ You kill yourself then. The reality is that managers, players, coaching staff – sometimes they have one year left and they are happy; others need a different challenge.”